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Engineering  |  Laboratory for Energy And Power Solutions (LEAPS)

Projects

Description:

Grid ModernizationGrid Modernization 

Grid modernization creates control strategies for the seamless integration of energy management systems, microgrids, and distributed energy resources into traditional grid systems. Control algorithms include model predictive control, aggregation, and self-organization to enable coordination between assets while remaining generalizable and scalable for use in systems of any size (kW, MW, or GW). Control objectives include cost savings, reliability, resilience, maximizing use of renewables, and more.

This flexible control infrastructure allows vendor-agnostic machine-to-machine communication to enable plug-and-play capability of assets and enabling controls. Control techniques are implemented and tested in the Grid Modernization and Microgrid Test Bed. Over 30 types of energy assets are available including off-the-shelf components and customized power electronics.


Current Projects:

Blockchain for Transactive Energy

Transactive energy has the potential to simplify the exchange of energy between the increasing number of distributed energy resources (DERs) and other grid-edge devices. The distributed framework for transactions in an open market is unsecure, however. This project implements Blockchain technology to both secure and facilitate energy trading between DERs. Hyperledger Fabric is implemented onto a secure hardware chip developed by project partner BlockFrame that sets immutable cryptographic keys for each DER asset. The underlying keys and associated Blockchain capabilities allow for proof-of-origin and proof-of-trust verification. Applications include transactive energy, intrusion detection, asset firmware updates, set point updates, and more.

This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research.


Distributed Energy Resource Aggregation

The proliferation of distributed energy resources (DER) at commercial, residential, and campus buildings has created an opportunity to simplify control through aggregation. An aggregator represents many assets as a single controllable unit for scheduling and real-time control. The system operator can dispatch the aggregated resources for energy, capacity, or ancillary services in day-ahead and real-time markets. Value is shared with the customer through shared revenue or reduced electric bills.

This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research.

 


Model Predictive Control for Microgrids

Traditional logic-based controls have limited efficacy for anticipating future changes in renewables, loads, and energy market prices. The resulting sub-optimal dispatch strategies lead to increased costs, increased fuel use, and reduced autonomy and reliability. This project develops and implements model predictive control to optimally dispatch microgrid assets to meet local loads and participate in real-time energy markets. Optimization routines provide least cost energy bounded by security constraints that reflect operational characteristics of each DER. Forecasting algorithms are used to predict load and renewable generation profiles for a specified time horizon. The optimization formulation minimizes operating cost and maximizes revenue streams.

This project is supported in part by Salt River Project and the Office of Naval Research.


Self-organizing Microgrids

The past decade has shown substantial increases in global demand for renewable energy resources and microgrids with 146 countries having national targets for renewable energy in power, and 85 countries, states, or provinces having targets for more than 50%. Generalizable and scalable control strategies are needed to facilitate the use of distributed energy resources and microgrids in conjunction with large-scale grid systems. This project develops self-organizing control strategies, inspired by biological systems, to facilitate coordination between microgrids, distributed energy resources, and the main grid. This approach employs distributed intelligence to mitigate the burden of increased communication traffic and avoid adding thousands of more control points to centralized operator systems. Control strategies are implemented in a simulation environment prior to hardware testing and verification in the LEAPS Grid Modernization and Microgrid Test Bed.

This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.


Past Projects:

District Cooling with Thermal Energy Storage

District cooling systems may incorporate thermal energy storage (TES) units to shift energy use to off-peak rates while still meeting dynamic cooling loads that fluctuate based on human occupancy and environmental conditions. Dispatching units for least cost cooling becomes more complicated for systems including multiple chillers and TES units, which can be dispatched in a variety of configurations with respect to electricity prices and cooling load demands. This project conducted energetic and economic analyses of the TES system installed at SRP East Valley Service Center to make recommendations for dispatch schedules, use of precooling and TES, approach temperatures, and other system state points to reduce peak power consumption and the total cost of cooling. Energy use and daily cost were compared against daily ambient air temperatures and TES tank temperatures, and energy savings associated with using the TES were determined with cost savings assessed against various rate structures.

This project is supported in part by Salt River Project.

 

Description:

Resilient Infrastructure

Resilient infrastructure is facing increased vulnerability and risk to failure from natural disasters, cyber attacks, and kinetic strikes. To reduce incidence of cascading and catastrophic failures, planners and operators must be able to test network design configurations and operating strategies of both singular infrastructures (power, water, cyber, roads, etc.) and interconnections to other coupled infrastructure.

The Resilient Infrastructure Simulation Environment (RISE) was developed for research, planning, real-time operation, and training for management of complex, interdependent infrastructure processes and systems. RISE can be used to identify vulnerabilities, develop strategies for response to stressors, and evaluate and compare costs and benefits of system expansion, maintenance, and replacement.


Current Projects:

Defense Microgrids for Resilience

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has set targets for seven-day mission autonomy in case primary sources of power and water are lost. Further, the DoD spends $2.9 billion related to operational energy investments during fiscal year 2019. This project quantifies the benefit of short-duration and long-duration energy storage technologies added to existing diesel generators to reduce energy costs, provide ancillary services, and increase reliability in the event of a grid outage. Economic modeling for asset selection was integrated with model predictive control techniques for participation in real-time energy markets. Further, during a grid outage event, this project demonstrated that energy storage solutions improve energy security and increase autonomy to meet mission-critical loads when compared to a generator only microgrid. Results were generated for five military installations including US Navy, Air Force, and Army.

This project was completed in collaboration with Southern Research and XENDEE Corporation.  Project supported in part by the U.S. Department of Defense Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP).


Resilient Infrastructure Design and Evaluation

Critical infrastructure including power, water, cyber, and transportation face growing threats from natural disasters, kinetic attacks, and cyberattacks. For example, research has shown that increasing temperatures can decrease power generation and transmission capacity, and also expedite the degradation of water pumps and valves to the point of failure. These perturbations can ripple through each individual network and create larger-scale outages as vulnerabilities cross between interdependent infrastructures. By simulating stressors on coupled infrastructure, we can improve planning to identify optimal sizing, placement, and control of assets to reduce vulnerabilities to single-point and cascading failures across one or more types of infrastructure. Real-time simulations are also used to train operators for threat detection, adaptation, and response to reduce the incidence of failures and improve recovery time. Access to the Resilient Infrastructure Simulation Environment (RISE) can be obtained here.

This project is supported in part by Office of Naval Research.


Synthetic Power and Water Networks

Confidentiality and security of critical infrastructure can limit researchers from accessing data on power or water networks. For decades, researchers have extensively used a small set of standardized networks with limited opportunity to experiment and scale their work to thousands of realistic use cases. This project created a framework to generate synthetic power and water distribution networks, independently and then interconnected. The networks map to real geo-spatial topologies that track roads from OpenStreetMap data. Substation locations were selected from similar work that developed synthetic transmission test cases whereas water mains were taken from actual city locational data. Underlying real and reactive power in the distribution network were assigned using population information gathered from United States 2010 Census block data. Water demand was similarly assigned based on population density. The methods illustrate how to create individual synthetic distribution feeders, and groups of feeders across entire ZIP Code, with minimal input data for any location in the United States.

This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research and National Science Foundation.

Description:

Workforce DevelopmentWorkforce Development

Over 300 hours of training is available in renewables, microgrids, and grid modernization topics. This is delivered through online education, as concept-based lessons in a classroom setting, and hands-on through interactive simulators and physical hardware present at ASU or off-site through extension services. The 11 standard programs and customized offerings provide opportunities to rapidly train new personnel or provide continued education of managers, engineers, installers, operators, and technicians. One program is the Microgrid Boot Camp that offers an all-inclusive approach to microgrid education.

Graduates of our programs have been hired into electric utilities, technology vendors, developers, integrators and installers, regulatory bodies, commercial and industrial facilities, and military facilities. We also offer focused programs for Veterans seeking a career transition to the civilian workforce. Please see our trainings page a full list of our training offerings.


Current Projects:

Microgrid Workforce Development

Three people working on a microgrid.This rapid advancement and adoption of microgrid and renewable energy technology has increased demand for workers with advanced skills in microgrid engineering, planning and procurement, component integration, system controls, operational safety, and maintenance. LEAPS prioritizes serving this need by conducting hands-on trainings and online microgrid courses for the existing and future energy workforce. These initiatives are focused on workforce development to develop practical skills, conceptual knowledge, and hands-on experience working with microgrid control hardware and energy assets. A full list of training offerings is available on our Trainings page.

 

This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research and The World Bank.

Description:

Off-grid Solutions

Off-grid solutions are needed to provide sustainable and reliable power to the over 1 billion people worldwide that still lack access to electricity. Power systems for these vulnerable communities include complete microgrids with distribution networks, small hybrid solar PV systems, or containerized solutions for portable deployment to remote or disaster-stricken locations.

The systems are flexible and contain any number of assets including solar PV, diesel/gas generators, battery storage, wind, water purification, health and medical facilities, and other services that are integrated and controlled with an intuitive user interface for ease of operation. Our team conducts a detailed needs assessment involving the local community, on-ground partners, operators, and management prior to implementation, and uses that information to identify solutions.


Current Projects:

 

Rapid Mapping from GIS to Mini-Grid Power

Off-grid electrification strategies including mini-grids are needed to meet United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 to provide affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy access to all by 2030. Currently, mini-grid electrification planning takes several months for site visits, is costly, and can rely on simplified technical and financial data for decision making. Scientific innovations and workflow optimization are enabling the LEAPS team and collaborators to rapidly assess mini-grid rural electrification projects to reduce planning costs by 60-80%, increase accuracy through automated error checking, reduce assessment time by 90% relative to existing tools, and include more advanced technical and economic project metrics. The rapid assessment methodology uses a combination of high-resolution mapping data and power engineering to create accurate planning of mini-grid network architecture for asset sizing, asset placement, and a distribution network topology verified by power flow. Technical designs are then used to generate financial metrics of the project, such as levelized cost of energy, payback period, and cash flow. Finally, the integrated tool produces output in a GIS format that can be used in free GIS tools preferred by funders and partners.

Read the News Story about this Project Here: https://lnkd.in/gCZqvyW

This project is in partnership with YouthMappers.


Mapping Energy Access in Refugee Communities

Crucial energy planning decisions for refugee settlements are hindered by a lack of data on the existing energy ecosystem of refugee contexts. These data are necessary to understand the energy needs of refugee camps for short- and long-term energy planning. LEAPS is addressing this knowledge gap by conducting detailed assessments, discussions, and planning conversations of refugee settlements. To inform energy planning for the transition of temporary energy practices to semi-permanent energy infrastructure, LEAPS uses a mixed-methods approach with quantitative and qualitative data from households, small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and public services to create a holistic description of refugee settlement energy ecosystems. Preliminary findings revealed the detriment of lack of sustainable thermal energy planning in rural settings. We also identified opportunities for humanitarian aid organizations and SMEs to mutually benefit from off-grid power systems, increasing reliability and affordability of electricity for both.

This project in partnership with Medical Teams International.


Past Projects:

Universal Charge Controller for Off-grid Architectures

LEAPS developed a flexible hardware and software architecture that facilitates the phased deployment of power system configurations and electricity billing agreements to address the range of operational needs across rural villages around the world. The Universal Charge Controller provides the flexibility, modularity, and interoperability to permit adaptation to multiple use cases. This avoids developing separate solutions for solar home systems, battery charging stations, and microgrids, and thereby reduces overall cost and allows for expansion of rural electrification approaches that naturally unfold over time—e.g., multiple solar home systems can be later wired together within a village-scale micro-grid for improved electrical service. Work included custom design of a 500W inverter for battery charging, solar home systems, DC microgrid, and AC microgrid interconnect for 12, 24, and 48 VDC and 110 and 220 VAC inputs; with PWM charging for solar PV; and interoperability and controls for lead-acid and li-ion battery chemistries. It also includes pre-pay metering with WiFi 900 MhZ communication for remote operating capability.


Rapidly Deployable Clinic for Refugee Settlements

The severity and frequency of humanitarian crises are increasing, as evidenced by the record-breaking 70.8 million forcibly displaced refugees in 2019, and the 2 billion people currently in remote areas with insufficient access to quality healthcare and reliable utilities. Refugees have limited or no access to basic needs including water, food, shelter, and healthcare. This project designed and fabricated a portable, turnkey clinic with adjoining renewable power and water treatment systems with applications for immediate response and semi-permanent settlements. The containerized infrastructure leverages 9kW of solar power, 60kWh of battery energy storage, and 1200GpH of ultraviolet water purification hardware to provide quality healthcare and eliminate reliance on shipping diesel fuel and water supplies. The unit was deployed in rural Uganda to support diagnostics, primary care, and outpatient treatment in a 18,000 person refugee camp in close proximity to the northern border with South Sudan of the country. Over 700 patients are seen each week.

Project partners include Medical Teams International, DIRTT, Pipeline Worldwide, Industrial Water Innovations, and Gensler.  This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research.


Containerized Microgrid for Disaster Response

Rapid delivery of electrical power is needed for disaster relief, stabilizing development, military stationing, and other off-grid or weak-grid applications. This need for on-demand power can be solved using a mobile, modular, and self-sufficient power system designed for rapid deployment and seamless integration. A containerized power solution was designed specifically for disaster response with a renewable energy component to offset dependency on diesel fuel. A functional prototype was fabricated to include a 20kW solar PV array, 10kWh of lithium-ion battery storage, a 10kW inverter system, and a 20kW diesel fuel generator inside a standard 20ft shipping container. It can be set up and taken down in under one hour with newer versions cutting that time down by over 50%. Sustainability, ethics, health, and safety features were considered in relation to the design specifications, manufacturability, and design scalability of the unit. These considerations included the lifecycle of the container, maintenance, modularity, intuitive operation, accessibility, and component temperature regulation, among others.

This project was supported in part by NRG Renew.


Potable Water for Refugee Host Communities in Water Scarce Region

The Syrian refugee crisis has put strain on water resources in remote arid refugee settings of Lebanon and Jordan who are accepting millions of refugees. Many of these areas have no grid connection, and even when settlements are connected to the grid, the power can be unreliable. LEAPS provided reliable, low-cost power to enable reliable water supply and treatment for several thousand refugees. This project developed a custom 3.5kW inverter, variable frequency motor drive, and controls to increase efficiency by 15-30%, reduce energy costs by 25-50%, and provide backup power for up to 2 days of grid outage.

Project partners included Renee Moawad Foundation, Mercy Corps, H2O for Humanity, Zero Mass Water, and GreenCo Water. This project was supported in part by USAID.

Description:

Grid ModernizationGrid Modernization 

Grid modernization creates control strategies for the seamless integration of energy management systems, microgrids, and distributed energy resources into traditional grid systems. Control algorithms include model predictive control, aggregation, and self-organization to enable coordination between assets while remaining generalizable and scalable for use in systems of any size (kW, MW, or GW). Control objectives include cost savings, reliability, resilience, maximizing use of renewables, and more.

This flexible control infrastructure allows vendor-agnostic machine-to-machine communication to enable plug-and-play capability of assets and enabling controls. Control techniques are implemented and tested in the Grid Modernization and Microgrid Test Bed. Over 30 types of energy assets are available including off-the-shelf components and customized power electronics.


Current Projects:

Blockchain for Transactive Energy

Transactive energy has the potential to simplify the exchange of energy between the increasing number of distributed energy resources (DERs) and other grid-edge devices. The distributed framework for transactions in an open market is unsecure, however. This project implements Blockchain technology to both secure and facilitate energy trading between DERs. Hyperledger Fabric is implemented onto a secure hardware chip developed by project partner BlockFrame that sets immutable cryptographic keys for each DER asset. The underlying keys and associated Blockchain capabilities allow for proof-of-origin and proof-of-trust verification. Applications include transactive energy, intrusion detection, asset firmware updates, set point updates, and more.

This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research.


Distributed Energy Resource Aggregation

The proliferation of distributed energy resources (DER) at commercial, residential, and campus buildings has created an opportunity to simplify control through aggregation. An aggregator represents many assets as a single controllable unit for scheduling and real-time control. The system operator can dispatch the aggregated resources for energy, capacity, or ancillary services in day-ahead and real-time markets. Value is shared with the customer through shared revenue or reduced electric bills.

This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research.

 


Model Predictive Control for Microgrids

Traditional logic-based controls have limited efficacy for anticipating future changes in renewables, loads, and energy market prices. The resulting sub-optimal dispatch strategies lead to increased costs, increased fuel use, and reduced autonomy and reliability. This project develops and implements model predictive control to optimally dispatch microgrid assets to meet local loads and participate in real-time energy markets. Optimization routines provide least cost energy bounded by security constraints that reflect operational characteristics of each DER. Forecasting algorithms are used to predict load and renewable generation profiles for a specified time horizon. The optimization formulation minimizes operating cost and maximizes revenue streams.

This project is supported in part by Salt River Project and the Office of Naval Research.


Self-organizing Microgrids

The past decade has shown substantial increases in global demand for renewable energy resources and microgrids with 146 countries having national targets for renewable energy in power, and 85 countries, states, or provinces having targets for more than 50%. Generalizable and scalable control strategies are needed to facilitate the use of distributed energy resources and microgrids in conjunction with large-scale grid systems. This project develops self-organizing control strategies, inspired by biological systems, to facilitate coordination between microgrids, distributed energy resources, and the main grid. This approach employs distributed intelligence to mitigate the burden of increased communication traffic and avoid adding thousands of more control points to centralized operator systems. Control strategies are implemented in a simulation environment prior to hardware testing and verification in the LEAPS Grid Modernization and Microgrid Test Bed.

This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.


Past Projects:

District Cooling with Thermal Energy Storage

District cooling systems may incorporate thermal energy storage (TES) units to shift energy use to off-peak rates while still meeting dynamic cooling loads that fluctuate based on human occupancy and environmental conditions. Dispatching units for least cost cooling becomes more complicated for systems including multiple chillers and TES units, which can be dispatched in a variety of configurations with respect to electricity prices and cooling load demands. This project conducted energetic and economic analyses of the TES system installed at SRP East Valley Service Center to make recommendations for dispatch schedules, use of precooling and TES, approach temperatures, and other system state points to reduce peak power consumption and the total cost of cooling. Energy use and daily cost were compared against daily ambient air temperatures and TES tank temperatures, and energy savings associated with using the TES were determined with cost savings assessed against various rate structures.

This project is supported in part by Salt River Project.

 

Description:

Resilient Infrastructure

Resilient infrastructure is facing increased vulnerability and risk to failure from natural disasters, cyber attacks, and kinetic strikes. To reduce incidence of cascading and catastrophic failures, planners and operators must be able to test network design configurations and operating strategies of both singular infrastructures (power, water, cyber, roads, etc.) and interconnections to other coupled infrastructure.

The Resilient Infrastructure Simulation Environment (RISE) was developed for research, planning, real-time operation, and training for management of complex, interdependent infrastructure processes and systems. RISE can be used to identify vulnerabilities, develop strategies for response to stressors, and evaluate and compare costs and benefits of system expansion, maintenance, and replacement.


Current Projects:

Defense Microgrids for Resilience

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has set targets for seven-day mission autonomy in case primary sources of power and water are lost. Further, the DoD spends $2.9 billion related to operational energy investments during fiscal year 2019. This project quantifies the benefit of short-duration and long-duration energy storage technologies added to existing diesel generators to reduce energy costs, provide ancillary services, and increase reliability in the event of a grid outage. Economic modeling for asset selection was integrated with model predictive control techniques for participation in real-time energy markets. Further, during a grid outage event, this project demonstrated that energy storage solutions improve energy security and increase autonomy to meet mission-critical loads when compared to a generator only microgrid. Results were generated for five military installations including US Navy, Air Force, and Army.

This project was completed in collaboration with Southern Research and XENDEE Corporation.  Project supported in part by the U.S. Department of Defense Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP).


Resilient Infrastructure Design and Evaluation

Critical infrastructure including power, water, cyber, and transportation face growing threats from natural disasters, kinetic attacks, and cyberattacks. For example, research has shown that increasing temperatures can decrease power generation and transmission capacity, and also expedite the degradation of water pumps and valves to the point of failure. These perturbations can ripple through each individual network and create larger-scale outages as vulnerabilities cross between interdependent infrastructures. By simulating stressors on coupled infrastructure, we can improve planning to identify optimal sizing, placement, and control of assets to reduce vulnerabilities to single-point and cascading failures across one or more types of infrastructure. Real-time simulations are also used to train operators for threat detection, adaptation, and response to reduce the incidence of failures and improve recovery time. Access to the Resilient Infrastructure Simulation Environment (RISE) can be obtained here.

This project is supported in part by Office of Naval Research.


Synthetic Power and Water Networks

Confidentiality and security of critical infrastructure can limit researchers from accessing data on power or water networks. For decades, researchers have extensively used a small set of standardized networks with limited opportunity to experiment and scale their work to thousands of realistic use cases. This project created a framework to generate synthetic power and water distribution networks, independently and then interconnected. The networks map to real geo-spatial topologies that track roads from OpenStreetMap data. Substation locations were selected from similar work that developed synthetic transmission test cases whereas water mains were taken from actual city locational data. Underlying real and reactive power in the distribution network were assigned using population information gathered from United States 2010 Census block data. Water demand was similarly assigned based on population density. The methods illustrate how to create individual synthetic distribution feeders, and groups of feeders across entire ZIP Code, with minimal input data for any location in the United States.

This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research and National Science Foundation.

Description:

Workforce DevelopmentWorkforce Development

Over 300 hours of training is available in renewables, microgrids, and grid modernization topics. This is delivered through online education, as concept-based lessons in a classroom setting, and hands-on through interactive simulators and physical hardware present at ASU or off-site through extension services. The 11 standard programs and customized offerings provide opportunities to rapidly train new personnel or provide continued education of managers, engineers, installers, operators, and technicians. One program is the Microgrid Boot Camp that offers an all-inclusive approach to microgrid education.

Graduates of our programs have been hired into electric utilities, technology vendors, developers, integrators and installers, regulatory bodies, commercial and industrial facilities, and military facilities. We also offer focused programs for Veterans seeking a career transition to the civilian workforce. Please see our trainings page a full list of our training offerings.


Current Projects:

Microgrid Workforce Development

Three people working on a microgrid.This rapid advancement and adoption of microgrid and renewable energy technology has increased demand for workers with advanced skills in microgrid engineering, planning and procurement, component integration, system controls, operational safety, and maintenance. LEAPS prioritizes serving this need by conducting hands-on trainings and online microgrid courses for the existing and future energy workforce. These initiatives are focused on workforce development to develop practical skills, conceptual knowledge, and hands-on experience working with microgrid control hardware and energy assets. A full list of training offerings is available on our Trainings page.

 

This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research and The World Bank.

Description:

Off-grid Solutions

Off-grid solutions are needed to provide sustainable and reliable power to the over 1 billion people worldwide that still lack access to electricity. Power systems for these vulnerable communities include complete microgrids with distribution networks, small hybrid solar PV systems, or containerized solutions for portable deployment to remote or disaster-stricken locations.

The systems are flexible and contain any number of assets including solar PV, diesel/gas generators, battery storage, wind, water purification, health and medical facilities, and other services that are integrated and controlled with an intuitive user interface for ease of operation. Our team conducts a detailed needs assessment involving the local community, on-ground partners, operators, and management prior to implementation, and uses that information to identify solutions.


Current Projects:

Rapid Mapping from GIS to Mini-Grid Power

Off-grid electrification strategies including mini-grids are needed to meet United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 to provide affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy access to all by 2030. Currently, mini-grid electrification planning takes several months for site visits, is costly, and can rely on simplified technical and financial data for decision making. Scientific innovations and workflow optimization are enabling the LEAPS team and collaborators to rapidly assess mini-grid rural electrification projects to reduce planning costs by 60-80%, increase accuracy through automated error checking, reduce assessment time by 90% relative to existing tools, and include more advanced technical and economic project metrics. The rapid assessment methodology uses a combination of high-resolution mapping data and power engineering to create accurate planning of mini-grid network architecture for asset sizing, asset placement, and a distribution network topology verified by power flow. Technical designs are then used to generate financial metrics of the project, such as levelized cost of energy, payback period, and cash flow. Finally, the integrated tool produces output in a GIS format that can be used in free GIS tools preferred by funders and partners.

This project is in partnership with YouthMappers.


Mapping Energy Access in Refugee Communities

Crucial energy planning decisions for refugee settlements are hindered by a lack of data on the existing energy ecosystem of refugee contexts. These data are necessary to understand the energy needs of refugee camps for short- and long-term energy planning. LEAPS is addressing this knowledge gap by conducting detailed assessments, discussions, and planning conversations of refugee settlements. To inform energy planning for the transition of temporary energy practices to semi-permanent energy infrastructure, LEAPS uses a mixed-methods approach with quantitative and qualitative data from households, small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and public services to create a holistic description of refugee settlement energy ecosystems. Preliminary findings revealed the detriment of lack of sustainable thermal energy planning in rural settings. We also identified opportunities for humanitarian aid organizations and SMEs to mutually benefit from off-grid power systems, increasing reliability and affordability of electricity for both.

This project in partnership with Medical Teams International.


Past Projects:

Universal Charge Controller for Off-grid Architectures

LEAPS developed a flexible hardware and software architecture that facilitates the phased deployment of power system configurations and electricity billing agreements to address the range of operational needs across rural villages around the world. The Universal Charge Controller provides the flexibility, modularity, and interoperability to permit adaptation to multiple use cases. This avoids developing separate solutions for solar home systems, battery charging stations, and microgrids, and thereby reduces overall cost and allows for expansion of rural electrification approaches that naturally unfold over time—e.g., multiple solar home systems can be later wired together within a village-scale micro-grid for improved electrical service. Work included custom design of a 500W inverter for battery charging, solar home systems, DC microgrid, and AC microgrid interconnect for 12, 24, and 48 VDC and 110 and 220 VAC inputs; with PWM charging for solar PV; and interoperability and controls for lead-acid and li-ion battery chemistries. It also includes pre-pay metering with WiFi 900 MhZ communication for remote operating capability.


Rapidly Deployable Clinic for Refugee Settlements

The severity and frequency of humanitarian crises are increasing, as evidenced by the record-breaking 70.8 million forcibly displaced refugees in 2019, and the 2 billion people currently in remote areas with insufficient access to quality healthcare and reliable utilities. Refugees have limited or no access to basic needs including water, food, shelter, and healthcare. This project designed and fabricated a portable, turnkey clinic with adjoining renewable power and water treatment systems with applications for immediate response and semi-permanent settlements. The containerized infrastructure leverages 9kW of solar power, 60kWh of battery energy storage, and 1200GpH of ultraviolet water purification hardware to provide quality healthcare and eliminate reliance on shipping diesel fuel and water supplies. The unit was deployed in rural Uganda to support diagnostics, primary care, and outpatient treatment in a 18,000 person refugee camp in close proximity to the northern border with South Sudan of the country. Over 700 patients are seen each week.

Project partners include Medical Teams International, DIRTT, Pipeline Worldwide, Industrial Water Innovations, and Gensler.  This project is supported in part by the Office of Naval Research.


Containerized Microgrid for Disaster Response

Rapid delivery of electrical power is needed for disaster relief, stabilizing development, military stationing, and other off-grid or weak-grid applications. This need for on-demand power can be solved using a mobile, modular, and self-sufficient power system designed for rapid deployment and seamless integration. A containerized power solution was designed specifically for disaster response with a renewable energy component to offset dependency on diesel fuel. A functional prototype was fabricated to include a 20kW solar PV array, 10kWh of lithium-ion battery storage, a 10kW inverter system, and a 20kW diesel fuel generator inside a standard 20ft shipping container. It can be set up and taken down in under one hour with newer versions cutting that time down by over 50%. Sustainability, ethics, health, and safety features were considered in relation to the design specifications, manufacturability, and design scalability of the unit. These considerations included the lifecycle of the container, maintenance, modularity, intuitive operation, accessibility, and component temperature regulation, among others.

This project was supported in part by NRG Renew.


Potable Water for Refugee Host Communities in Water Scarce Region

The Syrian refugee crisis has put strain on water resources in remote arid refugee settings of Lebanon and Jordan who are accepting millions of refugees. Many of these areas have no grid connection, and even when settlements are connected to the grid, the power can be unreliable. LEAPS provided reliable, low-cost power to enable reliable water supply and treatment for several thousand refugees. This project developed a custom 3.5kW inverter, variable frequency motor drive, and controls to increase efficiency by 15-30%, reduce energy costs by 25-50%, and provide backup power for up to 2 days of grid outage.

Project partners included Renee Moawad Foundation, Mercy Corps, H2O for Humanity, Zero Mass Water, and GreenCo Water. This project was supported in part by USAID.